Negotiate your next job with confidence

Fun fact: I have ten years of experience working with companies on their compensation. Take it from me, that is deep experience. I’ve seen the gamut in terms of how companies handle recruiting and the offer process. I’ve also seen the gamut on negotiations, and how different tactics land.

So, today I’m boiling it down – here are five tips for negotiating your next job with confidence.

Know who and what you’re dealing with

If you’re applying to a well-established, medium size company or bigger, chances are they have a system. This includes intelligence on what the market pays for your position, and probably an established guideline for salary, bonus opportunity, other incentives, vacation, allowances, etc.

Typically these systems come with a fair amount of internal pressure to stay within bounds – to manage costs, free up management and maintain internal equity.

This doesn’t mean you can’t ask for the moon (more on that below), just know that the company has a system and that getting around it or getting creative is generally pretty rare. This does mean that your mission is to get the best offer you can, working within their system.

If you’re joining a small company or start up, different rules may apply and creativity possibly encouraged. If you’re serious about the job and growing with the company, definitely go after equity.

Nail your ask – the sooner the better

If you’ve ever had a call from a recruiter, you know that they’re keen to find out what you’re making now. Two reasons: to gauge your suitability for their position, and to test whether you’ll fit within the company’s compensation system.

Don’t be shy about not answering that question if you don’t want to. You can say you’d prefer to put it off until later, or, you can tell them what you would like to be making – in other words, what you would move for.

Knowing the number you would move for is important. Recognizing a lot of factors go into making a career move, compensation looms large. So before you enter your first conversation with a recruiter or potential manager, take a few minutes to consider the salary, incentive, pension, benefits, vacation and other terms you would like (the aspiration) and what you would settle for (and still sleep at night). I created a quick cheat sheet to help you get clear on this ahead of time – you can grab it HERE.

Know where you stand

First, if you’re in a negotiation, they want you. Recruiting is a costly process – it takes time and most companies want roles filled yesterday. So if a company tells you they’d like to move forward with an offer, then you can be confident that they are invested in making it work with you, within reason (and within their system).

This is why I encourage you to ask for what you want. Do your homework, know your worth, and don’t be shy about coming in with all of your asks.

Negotiate with grace

First, manners. When you get an offer, say thank you. You are negotiating with another human and the relationship matters. That human is motivated to end their search with you. And they can unlock what’s possible within their system if they want to.

A lot of companies will talk through the details of the offer with you, then put it in writing. This can save them time by only getting senior management sign-off once, versus multiple times. Caution: this approach can make you feel like receiving the offer in writing is the final step. It doesn’t have to be.

So, know that the first conversation is an opportunity for you to negotiate, but not the only opportunity.

When an offer is presented, don’t agree to any aspect of it in real time. Even if you feel like Santa just flew by and left you a Victorian dollhouse full of period furnishings (or, you know, insert your childhood dream here) – take a breath, say an honest thank you and that you’d like to sleep on it. Preferably several sleeps.

If you’re still not sure you can buy yourself more time. Maybe you would benefit from meeting a few more people in the company – a peer or the head of the department. Leave it open until you’re ready to close it.

Look at the whole picture

Money is important and so is your life. When negotiating, consider the non monetary terms too – work location (commute time), hours, flexibility, seasonality, vacation, perks, leadership, opportunity, learning and development, colleagues, social, company culture. You won’t be able to negotiate on all of these, but you may on some.

Final word

There is no one size fits all for negotiating your next job, but here’s one tip that stands no matter what: be true to yourself. Career moves are a big deal, many of us will only make a handful or two in our lives. So make sure it’s the right role, know what you want, and go after it.


If you didn’t already grab it, I made a super simple cheat sheet for nailing your ask so you are clear on what you want ahead of time – you can get it HERE.


Was this useful? There’s always more coming! Subscribe for a weekly roundup of career strategy and inspiration – HERE . And if you’re on Instagram, I would love to see you – HERE. ūüíú

Change your work narrative: how to reclaim your power when you’re in a slump

A little while ago I posted some advice on getting through a rough patch at work. Let’s be realistic: everyone goes through this. As a person who spends a lot of time in the peaks and valleys, I am an expert on this. Yes, generally I love my work and career, but I’ve had times when I struggled with showing up, bringing my A game (or any game at all) and keeping myself on track with my bigger goals.

Here are five steps I wish I’d taken sooner to end the self-pity on several occasions. Also, while wine with friends is not a solution, it is fun and encouraged.

Show up as you

Wear your favourite outfit. Welcome an authentic conversation with your colleagues (in lieu of brooding silence). Say your idea out loud (in lieu of over-editing yourself into nothingness). Channel a version of yourself that feels more complete: Sunday coffee shop you, or playing with your two-year-old you, or just finished dance class you. Just, you. Whole Self, people. Throw caution to the wind.

Get boundaries

Hellish deadlines or not, you are a free person. So show up on time, get in, get it done, and get out again. Even if you’re working late, for goodness sake, take a break! Healthy people have boundaries. They’re good for you and, believe it or not, they’re good for your colleagues and company. No one has a breakdown which means everyone wins.

Finish something

Even if it’s little, make it your mission to complete something. This simple act will get something off your list and will give you some sense of control and accomplishment. That energy will do wonders for your mood and will probably kickstart more productivity too. Pick the thing on your list that least offends you, and do it now.

Take stock

When you can, take a second and get clear on what’s happening. Consider a few common reasons why you’re down on work:

  1. it’s work related (what you’re actually doing day to day),
  2. it’s people related (boss, colleagues, lack thereof),
  3. it’s path related (this role isn’t leading you where you want to go), or
  4. it’s not work at all (demands outside of work are making feel work impossible)

Even if you can’t solve for it today (and quite often you can’t), at least you know where your challenge lies. You would be amazed how many of us think the problem is one thing, when two minutes of focused, critical thought reveals that it is something else.

De-victimize yourself

Listen, you’re an adult. You got yourself this job for reasons that made sense at the time. And if every one of those reasons no longer applies, then you’re going to decide to hunt for a new job pretty soon. If any of those reasons remains valid, then good for you! You are the main character here – and if there are things that need to change, you’re about to start doing that. Getting intentional about turning this negative energy around gets you into your power and moving past a slump faster. Cue me raising a foam finger in the air¬†for you¬†because you got this.


That’s it, five things to get you into your power and out of a work slump. What do you think – have you used these or others? Let me know with a comment or find more inspiration and tips (and pictures of my two cute toddlers) over here.


Worrying is bad for us. Let’s stop.

This month the thirteenth fell on a Friday. I have a soft spot for those because I got engaged on Friday the thirteenth in September 2013.

Recently I was researching what older people regret. What can I say, this is just the kind of stuff I google on the reg. The answer? Worrying.

I can relate to worriers. I come from a strong line of worrier women (ahem, also warrior women, shout outs ladies!). And often the worries come from a good place – of love and concern and wanting the best outcome for everyone.

Five years ago I was a little worried. I was ready to move forward with my life in a bunch of ways and I wanted all the things at once – to get married, to kill it at work, to be my fittest self, to buy a home, to start a family. Sometimes I worried that none of it was going to happen.

The problem with worries is that they’re just imaginary negative thoughts about the future AKA the unknown. Um. Could anything be more useless?

The last five years have unfolded in ways I never could have predicted, full of ups and downs and blessings and challenges. They’ve been surprising, hilarious, painful, transformative and miraculous.

Newsflash: the worries were wasted energy. All worry is wasted energy!

Back to the old folks. The article specifically said these worriers (/warriors) wished they had thought more short term. Which made me pause.

Because in yoga we’re always saying “be in the present moment”.

I realized that if we just pull those future worries back in time, and if we think short term enough then we land in the present moment. 

Worries don’t make sense in the present moment. They’re for the future.

What does make sense in the present moment? Taking actions to align with desired outcomes. 

Worrying is bad for us. Let’s stop.

That’s what our elders are telling us. Let’s listen.

And now for the choice

This is the final post in the Career Cornerstones for a Lit-Up Life series ūüôā If you didn’t catch the other three, here they are: Values, Tools and Purpose.

It’s summer 2001. Cell phones flip open and don’t have cameras. AOL is the most popular website. Social and media are just two words. Britney and JT are an item.

It’s a while ago.

I’m living out of two Rubbermaid bins, moving between tiny plywood structures with no electricity on a weekly basis. I’m showering irregularly but swimming often. I’m singing my heart out every night at campfire.

I’m a camp counselor in a place where I was an overnight camper for a decade prior. Meaning all my dreams have come true. I’m a role model for kids, I’m responsible for their wellbeing (including supervising dangerous activities like water trampolining, ziplining, developing grit and independence from their families). It’s silly, it’s creative, it’s demanding.

I’m trusted. I’m growing into it.

I’m the most alive I’ve ever been.

More than once, on “night out” from my cabin (note to self: immediately implement regular night out policy in parenting life), I experienced a lapse of consciousness. I felt as if I was completely alone at camp. For just a few moments, I would see myself standing there under the huge sky, surrounded by trees and nature and all the camp buildings, but with no other soul for miles.

Like it was all there just for me.

Perhaps it was the silence, the expansiveness of the brightly lit sky. Perhaps it was an invitation to come into oneness with the higher power that brought me there, that united that community. To let all the distractions fall away.

I mean, it was eerie.

But it was thrilling too.

Have you ever felt that?

A while ago I took an inventory of all the jobs I’ve had, and it’s a lot. Retail, food service, garden centre, telemarketing, customer service, tutor, church musician, yoga teacher. And those are BEFORE I started my HR career as a consultant, manager, director of programs, educator and coach.

But that camp job. Until now it was THE ONE that led me closest to a lit-up life. All the cornerstones were there – it aligned with my values, it made use of the tools I had to offer, it gave voice to my purpose and – it had me walking down a path that felt right.

The fourth career cornerstone is the path you choose to walk. Your values are well established, even your tools are largely your natural gifts. Your purpose is your unique contribution to the world.

Your path is different because it’s a choice. It’s the context. It’s the wrapper. It’s the industry and workplace and job that usher your offering into the world. It’s the scenery around you while you’re making your magic.

So what’s been the job that gets you closest to a lit-up life, and how do you know? Was there a sign? Like the vast wilderness holding its breath just for a moment, just for you?

And now for the choice: what path do you belong on now?

Me, I’ll take what I’m doing right this minute.

…with a few more starry nights and campfires thrown in. ‚ô•



Courage, my love.

Ever since I had my chakras opened, I’ve been keenly aware of a presence in my hundred year old home… So ya, that’s happening. And I’m thinking about how the same space transforms over time, depending on the energy contained in it.

For some reason this got me thinking about Kensington Market in Toronto, and this vintage shop there Courage, my love that I used to visit in high school. To me at that time the whole neighbourhood felt like freedom, escape and grown up sophistication, with racks of old leather jackets, incense, and an enticing level of grit you didn’t get in suburbia.

I remember going to look at the beads in Courage, always with no or very little money, imagining in detail the beautiful things I would buy if I had more to spend. Raised with not a lot of extas, I was always good at saving my money and getting fun out of imagining instead.

Years later I learned about a whole other side of the market when I married a second generation Canadian whose father has made his living there for some 50 years. He came from Portugal in the sixties as a teenager, barely conversant in English, and started working in a fruit and vegetable shop. The market was a hub for immigrants at that time, many financially poor but rich in spirit, hustling hard, raising livestock in tiny urban yards, engaged in a total metamorphosis, breaking away from the old back-home ways to create a new future.

Same neighbourhood, different time. And a whole different kind of grit.

This week, something shifted. It could be all the time I spent making funny noises with two tiny people. It could be Jen Sincero’s badass audiobooks. It could be the fact that I’m finally making room for some creativity in my life. Or dare I say the chakra opening?

Before, I had been thinking about fear a lot. I’ve been thinking of fear as this omnipresent obstacle that we need to power through. As in, feel the fear and do it anyway. In this narrative though, the key word is fear. It’s something to overcome – hold your breath – and endure.

And seemingly out of nowhere yesterday, the shift came: Courage. Courage is the ticket through the fear. Courage is the positive, courage is the hope, courage is the power position. Fear is no match for courage.

This is the new narrative. Having courage, feeling courage, living courage. Courage to face the unknown, do the undone. Even befriend the ghost.

A new kind of grit again.

Now go forth and be courageous.

Breathe. Shift. Breathe. Repeat.

How to recognize your child’s strengths… and position them for success in life

First, I listened to this. From Good Life Project, the podcast that turned me on to podcasts.

It’s a discussion with psychologist Lea Waters about her work in positive psychology and her new book The Strength Switch: How The New Science of Strength-Based Parenting Can Help Your Child and Your Teen to Flourish.

I feel so empowered as a parent, to give an(other) amazing gift to my children: helping them to know their strengths.

As parents we have an incredible opportunity to be a mirror for our children. Before they are conscious of the world around them, before they are influenced by social phenomena, before they are exposed to¬†irritating cultural lies like “artists don’t make money” or “athletes get girls” or “kindness is weakness”, etc…

Meeting their incessant needs as tiny people means that we are uniquely positioned to identify their strengths for them. We are literally¬†right there¬†when they are¬†plainly becoming who they are. In Lea Waters’ strength research speak, we see what they:

(1) exhibit above-average performance at,

(2) are energized by, and

(3) really LIKE doing.

And that true-strengths test defines the talents and character traits that are the secret sauce for their individual success.


For my part, I see that FL has a good memory and makes connections easily. She is determined and strong-willed. She is conscientious, taking pleasure in putting things in order. She is empathetic, friendly, sensitive, and funny. And she likes to sing in the morning when she wakes up.

If you are a parent, be on the lookout for your child’s strengths. And share your findings with your child as they grow!

Doing this simple thing can help them avoid beginning a process of self inquiry when they’re in midlife and unsatisfied with their careers, and instead give them a shot at a much happier, more fulfilled life.






Who has ever felt stuck? All of us. And when we feel that way, it is so easy to fall prey to our culture’s go-big-or-go-home attitude toward improving your life. The messages coming at us encourage huge leaps in the pursuit of a better, happier, more fulfilled life. “Quit your job! Leave your unsatisfying relationship! Move off the grid to a tiny home and eat insects!”

These might be advisable solutions for some of us (where we’ve done the work to understand our situation, analyzed all the best available options for improving our lives, and are making educated choices).

For many of us, the risk of these alluring wholesale Life Changes is significant.

We underestimate the power of much smaller changes to radically improve our sense of happiness, purpose and wellbeing on a daily basis. These require a fraction of the energy, resources and risk associated with bigger changes. Here are five ideas for small tweaks with a big return on investment:

1. Do not leave your town or even your home, if you don’t want to. Just change what you’re doing in it. Watch a different show, read a different book, go to a different restsurant. Repeat regularly to continuously shift your perspective.

2. Think of three people in your circle that you admire and plan to spend more time with them. We know the people we surround ourselves with have a major impact on how we develop as people and how we feel. Choose wisely.

3. Skip the degree or expensive certification unless you are really sure you will love the experience. There are no guarantees with formal education anymore. Instead take a course in your community or online for free. Learning about something that interests you is extremely rewarding plus you’ll connect with a tribe of like-minded folks along the way. And you can still put it on your resume.

4. Update your rituals. Take a moment to consider where stress lies in your day. Is small talk in the elevator with your boss every morning driving you to consider quitting your job? Arrive 5 minutes earlier. Is packing your kid’s lunch the worst part of your morning? Supervise him doing it the night before. Do you wake up feeling tried everyday? This one’s easy: go to sleep 15 minutes earlier, moving bedtime up until you start to feel refreshed.

5. Get meaning. A really common complaint as we grow in our careers – especially for women – is a feeling that it lacks meaning. Here’s how to get some: lead a philanthropic project in your company. Socially minded business is in vogue – even unexpected companies will get onboard. Or, volunteer through or outside of work, even once a month or year. Or, do a race for charity. Or, if you have no time for any of that, but you have some money set aside, make a donation. Find something you really believe in and choose to invest in meaning with the money you earn at your less-than-meaningful job.

Small changes, big impact. What will you do?

What my parents taught me about money

Chokers are back in style.

The jewelry, not the fetishists. Although I wouldn’t know which fetishes are hot right now. I googled “fetish trends” and it’s just too much. Something about laying alien eggs inside yourself.

I went to the bank and opened an investment account to save for baby F’s education. Banks are so invasive with their questions. There’s no good reason for them to ask for an estimate of my liquid and illiquid assets. They just ask because they can.

The estimate of my illiquid assets is zero dollars.

For someone so apparently ungrounded, I sure don’t feel that way. Taking care of an infant seven days a week. Monitoring her favourite game: Find a Strangulation Device. Shoelace, computer cord, baby monitor cord, ribbon, drawstring.

In my financial life though, I have all the freedom.

The bank asked for my salary. Which I told them, even though every day I’m not sure if I’m going back to my Old Job, Old Life. It was fun, pretending to be that person for a moment. Casually providing my employer information, basking in the powerful social currency that is having a paid job.

Feeling so tangible, so relevant, perched so tidily in the webbing of a company with a title and a paycheck. I glimpsed myself wearing clothing that wasn’t doubling as a baby’s kleenex.

Maybe a tasteful choker.

I googled “fetish define“. Noun. a course of action to which one has an excessive and irrational commitment.

I think about the money fetish. I know a lot of people with it. They are easy to judge Рtheir excessive and irrational commitment to  making it, spending it, looking and acting like they have it.

Materialism is so boring.

But I’m not above all that, as much as I’d like to be. I’m just more turned on by the security it brings. Stock piling it in a prudent fashion.

The internet thinks Forever21 went too far with their latest neckwear. I say most things at Forever21 go too far: example. Where is the subtlety?

Growing up I felt we never had enough. Not going on school trips because of the cost, shopping exclusively at thrift stores, only buying no name foods, reusing milk bags for sandwiches instead of buying zip locks. Never seduced by shiny new things, unnecessary decoration or trends.

Now that I’m an adult those choices feel reasonable, practical and wise. But that lens of Lack they left me with – it lingers.

So I take all the right steps. With the education savings and the hand me downs for baby F. I choose to build financial security to avoid choking myself with fear and anxiety. This is the mark my upbringing left on me.

It could be worse. Maybe this phone I’m writing on is the most expensive thing I own. Maybe I am overly wrapped up in ¬†the comfort and identity of my work, my living. But all that creates space for other things. Better risks. More interesting fetishes. Personal style. Radical evolution. Space to breathe.

Moving on

My family is neck deep in endings. Dismantling the homes of two grandmothers at the same time. On the English side, the condominium at Yonge and Wellesley was systematically stripped bare and decked out in fresh carpet and paint. But all I see is the ghost of its former self, comfortably worn in and smelling of lamb shanks and vigorously steamed broccoli while we gather over cherry tomatoes and beer. My grandfather’s beer stein said ‚ÄúPlease bother me, I’m studying.‚ÄĚ He earned a PhD in his seventies.

The place is empty now but I see the corner cabinet with the game of Othello inside and remember my grandmother’s hands so deliberate as she flipped the pieces. In my earliest memories I was curiously aware of the skin of her arms, fine and lined as tissue paper reused a third, a fourth, time. My grandfather was an engineer, apprenticed in his teens in Cornwall, and each room bore out his genius through quirky practical inventions: the homemade clock, the adjustable drafting table, the handy mechanism for storing plastic bags.

On the Portuguese side, the sidesplit in Etobicoke was well preserved until after its sale, a shrine to the family that came across the Atlantic in pieces to call it home. The fruit trees in the backyard flourished under the gentle supervision of my partner’s grandfather. His Pomeranians lovingly terrorized the neighbourhood with their puffy zing. This was a man I never met but imagine my husband to be like in many ways; I wish I had known him. The prominent family portraits on the walls proclaim the importance of family, of traditions. The recent Christmas nights I spent there, watching nature programs, chatting casually, enjoying cake and tea, I didn’t know how fondly I would remember those moments until now that they are firmly, gone.

An aspiring minimalist, I am punch drunk from witnessing the physical stuff of these flagging lives flashing before me ‚Äď in bins to go to my parents’, the Salvation Army, the dump; in trucks to come to my house, or my uncle’s, or into storage.

For our part we have outfitted our current space ‚Äď a rented nest in the Junction neighbourhood ‚Äď with an appropriate number of our grandparents’ things. We’ve hung their art and replaced the environmentally questionable glue-and-chipboard dining set with their much nicer teak one.

Keeping these things feels right. They’re a tribute to the spaces they formerly inhabited, to the people who chose them, loved them, and lived there. And something to show our baby daughter when she asks about the great-grandparents she never got to know. She and her great-grandparents are ships passing, as the saying goes.

As for Toronto’s insane real estate market, the endless headlines that used to depress me are now amusing. I am no longer surprised when acquaintances relaunch their careers as realtors and developers. But these financial assets, these plaster, brick, wooden structures are also containers for our everything. Watching my family unload a century’s worth of history on anonymous strangers without so much as shaking hands feels, well, odd.

We’ve cleared the rooms like a film set after all the actors have gone home. But there is still something left in there. A shadow that can’t be scrubbed out. A lingering feeling, a late grandfather, left behind.

And so to the buyers of these homes I tell you: good and kind people lived here. There was a baby grand piano over there. My grandfather used to play on Sunday mornings while my grandmother went to church. His answer to religion perhaps. As you settle in with your boardgames and portraits and enmesh yourself with the wood, I tell you this: the late afternoon sunlight is glorious. Just lower your blinds if you want to protect your furniture. And don’t challenge the local ghost to Othello ‚Äď she is crafty and she will win.

Get your blossom on

Ya, I know it’s fall not spring. You know something I’ve learned since writing this blog? That season names are not capitalized. I guess I talk about seasons a lot, which is appropriate seeing as we’re discussing radical evolution here…aka change. And seasons are the ultimate symbol of change.

It’s fall and everything is dying ( I exaggerate – many things are ¬†just going dormant for a few months). But today’s message is to get blooming, because, well, we live ¬†in a globalized world and you can procure flowers any time.

That, and I’ve started an exciting journey. Reading You are a Badass by¬†Jen Sincero.

And the day came when the risk to remain  tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. 

That’s a quote from the poet Anais Nin that JS shares in the introduction of her book.

And I think I’m epiphanizing here. A very obvious truth, but one I maybe haven’t seen until now because I’m just too close to it.

I’ve been seeking most of my adult life. I’ve been reading and meditating and seeing therapists and looking for ways to blow up and radically evolve my life for so long. And I recently looked at a friend of mine who’s been with me for a lot of it. And I thought: how come my friend isn’t on this journey too? This friend doesn’t want to read You are a Badass with me. Not interested.

Now, ¬†truth be told I’m a personal development enthusiast. ENFJ that I am, no surprise there ¬†(just ask the one and only Ops Win).

But there’s something else. I need more. I want more. Whatever it is that I’m doing, this is not it for me. Because if it was, well, I wouldn’t still be looking to change it.

I would be like my friend. I would do other  stuff, read other books.

SO simple,  right?

Well, admitting that is huge. It means that if I don’t get things in motion to really create and live the life that I know I’m meant to live, ¬†then I’m knowingly holding myself back.

Like an enormous non badass. Like a scared, tame-ass, withering, weak little puddle.

Versus a bold, badass, thriving, big strong  tower.

Signing off now to go and, you know, get started with that.

As for you, thank you for reading this.  And get your blossom on,  too!